VALUES AND ETHICAL
Flow of Presentation
Strategies from Mahabharata
Ethics and Mahabharata
Ethical Approaches and Principles -- Mahabharata Incidences
Values( set of preferences) are said to be the cause and Ethics
effect. If one operates in a given instance, from a Value emotion
within, the outward action will tend to be Ethical.
The word ‘ethics’ is defined as “moral principle that govern or
influence a person’s behavior”.
Ethics is thus a benchmark of human behavior.
The conduct of human beings is influenced either by the
emotions of life or the actions people perform in different
The coordination of action and emotions generates ethics.
Ethical behavior is characterized by honesty, fairness and equity in
interpersonal, professional and academic relationships and in all
Ethical behavior respects the dignity, diversity and rights of
individuals and groups of people.
This definition is not a denial of the existence of other ethical
duties with respect to practice, professional service delivery, and
Indian ethos is drawn from the Vedas, the Ramayana,
Mahabharata, the Bhagwadgita, and Upanishad's.
Right from the Vedic age it has been discovered two basic
universal truths of life.
1.The essential infinitude and divinity of all souls.
2.The essential oneness and solidarity of universe and all life.
Kauravas : Centralized power system. The greatest empire
of the time. But not many powerful allies, except from old
relations from far off places like Gandhara(Shakuni),
Sindhu(Jayadrath) and Kambodia(Camboja - Bhagadutt)
Pandavas : No wealth. No power of their own. But powerful allies all over
Panchala through Marriage with Darupadi.
Dwarka through marriage with Arjuna and Subhadra.
Magadh through marriage of Shadeva and Vijaya.
Chedi through marriage of Nakula and Karenmayi.
Kasi through marriage of Bhima and Balandhara.
Kekaya through marriage of Yudhisthira and Devika.
Matsya through marriage of Abhimanyu and Uttara.
The Rakshasas through marriage of Bhima and Hidimba.
The Nagas through marriage of Arjuna and Uloopi.
Kauravas : Centralized leadership. One Head of Army at
a time, who has supreme authority of 11 akshouhini of
army Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Shalya and Ashwatthama.
Pandavas : Distributed leadership. Seven commanders for the seven
divisions. (1 man command 1 akshouhini each).
Virat (King of Matsya).
Drupad (King of Pancala).
Sahadeva(King of Magadha).
Dhrshtaketu (King of Chedi).
Satyaki (Only warrior from Dwarka).
Shikhandi (Prince of Pancala).
Dhrshtadymna – Commander in Chief.
Arjuna –Supreme Commander.
Krishna – Arjuna’s charioteer and counselor.
Kauravas : No team spirit. They all fought their individual wars.
Bhishma : For his Vow to protect the throne Hastinapur.
Drona and Kripa : They owed allegiance to the throne.
Shalya : Simply cheated by Duryodhana to be there. Was originally a
Karna : To prove his mantle against Arjuna. Friendship for
They didn’t gel well with each other. Bhishma and Karna. Bhisma and
Shakuni. Karna and Shakuni. Karna and Shalya. Shalya and Bhishma.
Pandavas : One team. One Goal.
As men, they all had huge respect for Krishna and
While as warriors they were in complete awe of Bhima
and Arjuna. Most of them were close relatives – cousins,
More than that they all were part of the decision-making
process. It was their “common” war.
Kauravas : Except for Duryodhana nobody wanted the War. All the 4
main generals had strong ties with the Pandavas.
Bhishma (grand childern) – Wont kill the pandavas. Will kill a thousand
soldiers each day.
Drona (students) – Wont kill the Pandavas. Will capture them only.
Shalya (Nakula-Shadeva’s maternal uncle) : Loved the Pandavas and
covertly helped them by humiliating Karna
Karna (brother to the Pandavas) : Promised not to kill any of the other
Pandavas save Arjuna.
A Team of Traitors
Pandavas : Common goal. But the individuals had their
individual targets. Their own agenda, which just became one
with the teams’ agenda.
Dhratsadyumna : Drona.
Shikhandi : Bhisma.
Satayaki – Bhurisravas.
Arjuna – Karna.
Bhima – Duryodhana and his brothers.
Sahadeva – Shakuni and his sons.
Nakula –Karna’s sons.
Krishna : The Greatest Crisis Manager the world has seen.
Yudhisthira : Low-key strategist.
On the first day of the War, he played a Master game. Went over to the
Enemy side to seek blessings from Elders. In reality he made a covert deal
with them, wherein all of them agreed to help him and unfolded the secrets
of defeating them.
While coming back, he took a calculated risk. He made an offer to all the
assembled people to change sides if they wanted to. He knew well of the
lack of cohesiveness among the Kauravas. Yuyutsu, son of Dhrtarashtra
crossed over to the Pandavas. This exposed the weakness of the Kauravas
for all to see.
Kauravas : Patriarchal structure.
Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Dhratarashtra, Vidur, Shakuni,
Duryodhana, Karna, Duhsasana.
No women in the decision making process.
Gandhari retreated to the Inner Chambers. Nobody listened
Pandavas : Matriarchal Structure.
Kunti was the authority supreme for the Pandavas.
“Whatever my mother says is Dharma to me” : Yudhisthira.
Draupadi was a companion in whatever the Pandavas did.
She had a big role in all the decision making. Without her the
Pandavas would have most probably reclined to the forests.
Even the younger Pandavas : Ghatotkach, Abhimnanyu and
Iravan were brought up by their mothers. So the female
influence was huge.
DECISION MAKING AND
Duryodhan and Arjun asked Lord Krishna for Support
One could have his Army and the other could have him
as his charioteer
Duryodhan took the army and Arjun chose Krishna
GETTING YOUR WORK DONE
Dronacharya realized that Eklavya was a superior archer
Dronacharya asked for Eklavya’s right thumb as Guru
IMPEDIMENTS TO SOUND
Greed - For power, position, prestige and money
Envy - Other’s achievements & success
Egotism - About one’s own accomplishments
ETHICS AND MAHABHARATA
The Mahabharata, an epic Indian poem detailing the struggle between
two rival families for control of the throne, stands as one of the great
treasures of world literature.
An enormous cast of characters populates the lines of the story, and
drama, pathos, and thrills abound.
Throughout all of the adventures, an underlying theme runs through the
Earthly achievements, such as wealth and power, mean nothing without
a strong moral compass to guide you.
While the Mahabharata is a religious text, it teaches important lessons
about business ethics.
THE GOLDEN RULE
The thread of dharma runs continuously throughout the rich
tapestry of the Mahabharata.
"Dharma" means that you should not do things to another
person that you would not want done to yourself.
Abiding by the Golden Rule leads to win-win situations, for
which every businessperson strives.
AVOIDING ZERO-SUM GAMES
At the end of Mahabharata, the intense battle waged by the two
sides leaves the kingdom over which they fought ravaged and
Even though the side of right and goodness wins, they pay a heavy
Modern-day companies should take note. Businesses can become
so focused on competition that they lose sight of everything else,
including the environmental and societal ramifications of their
Instead of competing, firms should try to collaborate with each
INTEGRITY AND EDUCATION
Before the two sides set off for battle, one of the warring
parties learns the art of war at the best military training
school in India.
The head of the school, Dronacharya, begins teaching his
pupils how to behave responsibly in the face of temptation
and controlling the urge to exploit others.
Only when his students passed the tests Dronacharya gave
them would he educate them in the art of war.
ETHICS IN WORK
The Mahabharata warns against focusing solely on the rewards of
doing your duty.
Lord Krishna exhorts the warrior Arjuna not to fight for his own
benefits and not to satisfy feelings of greed or desire. Rather,
Arjuna must fight for the good of others.
Business executives can take this message to heart. While having a
strong work ethic brings riches, ethics at work bring meaning and
significance to profit-making efforts.
Companies should not aim just to make money. Being good
corporate citizens equals being good citizens.
• The whole moral of Mahabharata states that “Victory of
good over evil” against which heavy cost was paid in form of
loss of great lives.
2. Rights and Duties
• The famous quote said by Krishna “MaFaleshu Kadachana”
(do your duty and do not think about its rewards)
3. Justice and Fairness
• The intent of Lord Krishna was to defeat the forces of evil
and to establish the Rule of Law or ‘Dharma’ where the
righteous would not only defend themselves but also
triumph over evil.
• Earthly achievements, such as wealth and power, mean
nothing without a strong moral compass to guide you.
4. Common Good
• Concept of ‘bahujan hitaya bahujan sukhaya’ has remained
the touchstone of decision making in righteous public policy
in India since the times of the Mahabharata.
• Yudhishtir’s partial truth manipulated to convey the message of
• The head of the school, Dronacharya, begins teaching his pupils
how to behave responsibly in the face of temptation and
controlling the urge to exploit others.
• Only when his students passed the tests Dronacharya gave them
would he educate them in the art of war.
• Drona too indirectly gave away his secret, by saying he was
invulnerable as long as he held a weapon.
• Draupadi’s chirharan in front of whole assembly where Krishna
protected her dignity.
• Every step took by Krishna were wrong in some or the other way
when it came to ethics but then it was already said the means are
• Bhishma did not fight a warrior like Shikhandi because of his
Here goes the strategy you could apply to your startup and
win against all odds in your way:
Prepare before hand and turn your weakness in to your
Make powerful Allies
Share your responsibilities
Teamwork succeeds where individual efforts fails
The Right Managers : To inspire, invigorate, counsel in
The right team is made by selecting right individuals, get
the right man for the right job and you make great
The best man for the job is not the one with the best
capabilities but one with the greatest commitment
Hire Right Manager who can inspire, take risks and exploit
weaknesses of the enemy
Know Ground realities. Accept different ideologies.
Empower Women, balance the equation